Core or central laboratory are facing several challenges. First, the management and operations of a successful modern laboratory is a real complex exercise, with multiple pre- and post-analytic (also know as peri-analytical) steps. Second, today, pressure from a hard economical climate, together with consolidation and merging of laboratories, is resulting in a far more competitive environment between laboratories. Third, the operational efficiency should be taken to a more advantageous cost base without compromising growth and quality.
Automation is therefore providing several advantages such as the improvement of specimen processing and laboratory workflows, the reduction and stabilisation of the turnaround time of analysis (TAT), the upgrade of global quality procedures, the enhancement of laboratory productivity as well as competiveness and finally by reducing human errors which will ultimately lead to improvement of patient safety and care.
However, the automation of a laboratory is far from an easy task and laboratory managers have deal with several steps such as the selection of pre- and post- analytical modules, potential sample conveyors systems, the choice of analytical units, the revision of the laboratory processes, the project management as well as the implementation and change management phases and the selection of partner(s) from in vitro diagnostic industry. It is also really important to point out that the efficiency of an automation solution will be highly dependent of the informatics and middleware platforms performances.
As the laboratories are more and more consolidated and the core-laboratories are acting as multi-disciplinary (chemistry, immunology, virology, haematology, haemostasis…) platforms and have to deal with the production and accreditation requirements, we have to consider a matrix approach for the selection process of the assays boarding on an automation solution.
We have therefore run a multidisciplinary project management, integrating both clinical and operational constraints, to define needs, criteria of choice and finally implement an automation system.